The X-Factor: Is it possible to stay friends with an ex?




She cheated. You cheated. Her father hated your tattoos. Your friends told you she was controlling. She was controlling. He always “forgot his wallet.” He thought your sorority sister was cuter anyways. He moved to Florida. You hate hot weather. He likes Chipotle burritos and you like bowls. Whatever the reason you broke up, it’s over and now you’re faced with the ultimate decision: do we stay friends?

As tempting as it might be to stay friends with an ex, in most cases, it’s about as easy as taking organic chemistry first semester your freshman year. When you emotionally, physically and financially invest your time into someone, of course it is hard to let them go.  Breaking up is  like that last bite of your Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked pint  and you’re left thinking, “Come on, that’s all I get?” It’s hard to go from being attached at the hip to avoiding eye contact, and being friends may seem like the easiest way out. You avoid the drama; you can still be involved in each others’ lives and maybe get away with an “I love you” text or two, right? Wrong. In reality, all this does is prolong the heartbreak because after all, you called it quits for a reason.

If you’re thinking about staying friends with an ex, here are some things to consider before you sign the peace treaty:

1. It is going to hurt you more than it makes you happy

No one wants half a piece of chocolate cake, or cold hot chocolate and you sure as hell won’t want half of your ex either.

As you try to become friends with your ex, it will become more apparent that what was once acceptable no longer is. Suddenly that urge to kiss him will be welcomed by “Whoa what are you doing?” and that “I love you” on the tip of your tongue better be swallowed, because “friends” don’t do that. It will be torture seeing the person you love right in front of you with new restrictions.

2. Every conversation will end in an argument

You thought you fought a lot when you dated? Well, this whole friendship thing is going to blur lines and cause even more tension. Sure, conversations might start with “Hi,” but will inevitably end with him yelling about that time you “flirted with that guy in Mexico behind his back.”

3. You’re not giving new people a chance

You might believe that you two are really “just friends,” but to everyone else you may as well be kissing in the corner of the party. The couple who breaks up and remains friends was either never in love, or still is. No one new is going to approach you if you spend the entire night fighting for your ex’s attention. Distance, however, will welcome new people, which will welcome a new start.

4. You get mixed signals

You are constantly texting and hanging out, even ending the night with long phone calls — but that’s where it stops. It’s like suddenly you’re back in a relationship but without the “good stuff.” There are no romantic dates, good morning texts that make your stomach flutter, or closet full of comfy oversized sweatshirts. It’s just you and this strange unfulfilling friendship.

5. You’re going to feel rejected

You two are getting your weekly coffee just to “catch up,” and that’s fine. Then, you look down at your watch (the one he bought you last Christmas) and realize you have been curling your hair, contouring your face and compiling the perfect outfit for the past two hours. Despite the time-consuming preparation, you are still going to leave your rendezvous feeling extra single and undesirable. Place all of that time and effort into someone who could potentially grow to be something more.

6. They broke your heart

There’s a saying “never go back to what broke you in the first place.” Sometimes, the sting of heartbreak is so unbearable we cannot help but climb back into the arms that shattered us. Good friendships are founded on trust and loyalty. If your ex broke your heart, your “friendship” is already standing on faulty groundwork.

So, whether you decide to stay friends or block each other on every social media platform out there, take a look at your situation. If you were friends before the relationship, maybe it is worth hitting the rewind button. But if you want to really move on, there is nothing wrong with that either. After all, I don’t think Taylor Swift was thinking friendship when she said, “we are never ever ever getting back together.”

Lauren can be reached at [email protected] or @lauuwoods

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